Heavy rains lead to flooding and landslides

Mar 10, 2016

Three days of rain are flooding Cuenca streets and triggering landslides on nearby highways. To make matters worse, the weatherman says more rain is in the forecast.

Floods caused a wash-out near Girón Wednesday. Credit: El Tiempo

Floods caused a wash-out near Girón Wednesday. El Tiempo

Overnight rain Wednesday night and early Thursday morning backed up drains in the city’s historic district, causing several accidents and prompting a warning from transportation officials for motorists to avoid flooded areas. In on accident, a car stalled in two-foot deep water when a wheel fell into an uncovered drain.

Police are also urging residents to stay away from city rivers, which have overflowed their banks in several locations. On Monday, two teenagers were rescued from rocks in the Tomebamba River after they were swept away by strong currents.

On Wednesday, flights from Quito were diverted to Guayaquil when Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport was closed due to strong showers and low visibility. Following refueling, the flights were able to continue on to Cuenca after rains stopped.

Landslides on highways between Cuenca and Giron and Cuenca and Machala tied up traffic for hours, and the provincial transportation office scrambled to find detours. “The problem is that as soon as we clear a landslide, the rains cause a new one,” said Javier Parra, an official who was assessing flood damage Wednesday in Sarayunga, near Girón. “When we designate a detour, landslides force us to find another one. Until the rains stop, these problems will continue,” he said.

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The national weather office said that the rains in Cuenca and throughout the sierra are not necessarily the result of El Niño. “It is playing a role in all the weather in the country but this is the time of year we normally see strong rains in the mountains.”

 

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